Sorry guys, I am clueless. I didn’t get it. Did you?
I mean, how can Benetton sell clothes by splashing digitally morphed pictures of famous adversaries, puckering up? What is the connection between clothes, hate, Pope and Obama? Ahh..Sensationalism! Shock therapy to grab eye balls. That’s what it is. To kiss and sell.
Unless of course, Benetton is in the race for the coveted Nobel Peace Prize!! But if that were the case, a simple embrace would have done the job. It is the lip-lock which has stirred a hornets’ nest. Understandably so! So what if the religious leaders preach love? How can Pope Benedict XVI lock lips with Ahmed el Tayyeb, the Imam of al-Azhar mosque in Egypt?
Is this what the world is coming to?
Within a day, Benetton had to remove the campaign after Vatican issued stern disapproval. But the purpose was served. Benetton got what it wanted. Recognition. That the campaign propagated further hatred is another matter. Their cause was noble. To ‘un-hate.’ Just like one would unfriend a friend on Facebook.
Allessandro Benetton, the deputy Chairman of Benetton says, “Kiss is a statement of tolerating differences. There are worse things that show up on the internet these days.”
Going by that logic, some manipulated imagery can be used by Kalpana sarees or a Kalaniketan. They can put up hoardings of Madam and Maneka in a firm embrace. Or perhaps Sushma and Sonia. Imagine the sale of saris? The idea remains, to be tolerant!
With the forthcoming UP elections, Behenji and Pehelwaan can well..err..I will let your imagination do the rest. The idea remains, to be tolerant.
When love is in the air, Salman and Shahrukh can lock lips and show the world that a kiss is a statement of tolerating differences.
And if a photograph can resolve differences between Israel and Palestine, what is to stop Zardari and Dr. Singh to smooch in public and solve the intractable Kashmir imbroglio. In fact Benetton did think of the same but refrained, fearing a backlash.People are not naive enough to believe that fake bonhomie can solve problems.
Prasoon Joshi, the advertising guru thinks that Benetton has set the tone for a larger debate. The advertiser should establish a dialogue with his consumer beyond the realm of the product. Consumers can no longer be a passive audience. Fine. But in what manner should the dialogue be initiated, is the question.
On a personal note, I find the advertisement funny. But several others are offended. One has to respect cultural sensibilities. Even when money is the only moral in the marketplace.
This is not the first time Benetton has treaded an unconventional path. In 1990 they showed a young nun kissing a priest and a black stallion mounting a white horse. If prodded, Benetton is likely to say that they were statements of tolerating differences.
So be it.
Digvijay can go smooch Anna.